You may have read that a study supposedly reports a connection between a low gluten or a gluten free diet on an increase in Type II Diabetes (often called Adult Onset Diabetes).
As is often the case, the need for click-bait headlines supersedes the goal to get it right. This is the kind of headline that will continue to reverberate around digital media for years. Keep in mind that reporters of this type of study are egged on by a trillion dollar wheat and Round-up industry. Remember that wheat is routinely sprayed a few days before harvest so both of these industries have a stake in proving gluten a good thing.so everybody who can shine some light on this topic to dispel the myths should do so. So I am writing a short piece about it here.
This study was based on diet recall questionnaires which are known to be an incredibly imprecise way of gathering data. Think back to what you ate last week. I guarantee you will underestimate and overestimate some food categories and forget some entirely. Such studies, no matter how large are far to limited in basic design to establish any level of cause and effect relationships. This will not stop motivated people from drawing improper conclusions and making sweeping generalizations that weren’t supported by the data.
Reduced “gluten” consumption can be a marker for: Increased selection of processed, gluten free foods that are loaded with cornstarch, rice flour, tapioca starch, potato flour and sugar of many varieties. These gluten-free replacements will increase the probability of many diseases and conditions, including Type II Diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, cancer, dementia and other inflammation-based problems.
Did these low gluten or gluten-free people adopt a junk-food based gluten-free diet? The study doesn’t say.
Once legitimate concern is the intake of insoluble fiber that is found in grains. These fibers are sometimes referred to as prebiotics because these are food supplies for beneficial gut bacteria. People on all sorts of low fiber diets can run into problems here.
Those two factors, in addition to other potential unidentified factors that can plague such study design and can only be speculated on, make it impossible to conclude that reduced gluten leads to increased type 2 diabetes or that increased gluten prevents diabetes. Yet that is what was reported.
What should a rational person conclude? You should monitor your blood sugar meaning your fasting blood glucose and your HbA1C. If these are climbing, you will need to cut back on foods that contribute to increased blood sugar especially packaged carb products, high sugar foods like cookies, cakes, donuts and the like. I don’t think I have to tell you this. The last thing you would want to do is up your gluten intake.
A list of people who should know better are editors at The Washington Post, Fox News, ABC News, Boston Magazine and on and on. Really, don’t get your health news from media outlets like this. If you read something or see something on this type of news outlet, do your own research for heaven’s sake. Then I won’t have to write blogs about stupid studies like this to calm people down about their gluten-free diet.